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Inspiring Initiatives: Avon's New and Innovative Partnership

Avon Foundation for Women, NIH, and The Center for Advancing Innovation are proud to launch the start-up challenge to advance breast cancer biomedical inventions; student and entrepreneur mentor teams to develop strategic business plan and launch biotech start-up. A world-wide competition to bring emerging breast cancer technologies to market to help patients is being launched by the Avon Foundation for Women, in partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the NIH, and the Center for Advancing Innovation. The Avon Foundation will fund $250,000 in grants to launch the Breast Cancer Start-up Challenge aimed at teams of business, legal, medical/scientific, engineering, and computer science students, as well as seasoned entrepreneurs.

The challenge will offer teams the opportunity to create strategic business plans and the potential to start new companies based on the development of 10 unlicensed breast cancer inventions by turning them into commercially marketed products. Breast cancer inventions include therapeutics, diagnostics, prognostics, one device, one vaccine, and a health IT invention, all from the NCI intramural program and Avon Foundation-funded university labs. The challenge will include up to 100 teams—10 teams for each of the 10 inventions— to compete. Each student team will be paired with entrepreneur-mentors to assist in the development of the business plans.

The challenge began on Oct. 1, 2013, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with a call to universities to establish challenge teams. Teams accepted into the competition will have until January 2014 to submit a business plan for judging. Selected finalists will receive an award of $5,000 and will present a comprehensive business plan.Winning start-ups will be recognized in June 2014. It is anticipated that up to 30 successful start-ups will apply and be awarded funding from venture and other sources, which could range from $100,000 to over $1,000,000.

Judges for this contest include:

  • Robert Berg, Senior Vice President, IRI
  • Katherine Bowdish, Ph.D.,Vice President R&D and Head of Sunrise,Sanofi
  • Kapil Dhingra, MBBS, Managing Member, KAPital Consulting
  • Nick Donofrio, IBM Executive Vice President Innovation and Technology (Retired)
  • Terry J. Fetterhoff, Sr. Director, Head, US Chief Technology Office Diagnostics Division, Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc.
  • Mary Haak-Frendscho, Ph.D. Chief Executive Officer, Ingenica, Inc.
  • Eric Hale, J.D. M.S., MBA, Associate Director, Office of Clinical and Preclinical Development Partnerships, Center for Cancer Research, NCI
  • John D. Hewes, Ph. D. Technology Transfer Specialist, Technology Transfer Center, NCI
  • Marc Hurlbert, Ph.D. Executive Director, Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade
  • Michael King Jolly, Pharm.D. Senior Vice President, Quintiles Innovation
  • Richard Lipkin, Venture Partner at Easton Capital Investment Group
  • James R. McCullough, Chief Executive Officer, Exosome Diagnostics
  • Carol Nacy, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sequella, Inc.
  • Christine K. Norton, Co-Founder, Minnesota Breast Cancer Coalition
  • Gil Price, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Drug Safety Solutions
  • Thomas M. Stackhouse, Ph.D. Associate Director, Technology Transfer Center, NCI
  • George F. Tidmarsh, M.D., Ph.D. President, Chief Executive Officer, La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co.
  • Rosemarie Truman Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Center for Advancing Innovation, INC.

Avon Foundation's Access to Care

The Avon Foundation for Women's mission is to provide access to breast healthcare for those in need today and to fund research to find the causes and learn how to prevent breast cancer. Read More